Royal presentation for Kew and Queen Mary volunteer

David Bithell from Kew, London was among the volunteers whose invaluable contributions across sailing and boating communities were celebrated by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, at an awards ceremony in central London.
27 Nov 23
LSE volunteer awards 2023 David Bithell

The 2023 RYA Volunteer Awards were held on Friday 10 November at One Great George Street, with 81 accolades given this year in recognition of the outstanding dedication and commitment made by volunteers of all ages and from all corners of the UK.

Outstanding Contribution

David received an RYA Outstanding Contribution Award which recognises the exceptional commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.

As Treasurer of Queen Mary Sailing Club David has transformed its financial management over the past 12 years. He recently became the first Chair of the Finance Sub Committee, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role, and helping to shape the club’s financial future.

Additionally, as leader of the Saturday Social Club, which provides a pathway for adults who complete RYA Level 2 to continue their sailing development and get into racing. He has had a significant impact on membership, which is now at a ten-year high. He has also driven the establishment of keelboat sailing and racing at the club.

As Treasurer he built the business case to acquire six RS21 keelboats and then as a sailor he established a keelboat club for members. This has proven particularly appealing to female sailors, and the boats have been used for training and many events.

David is enthusiastic, personable, and reliable. His dedication, hard work and passion have made significant contributions to the club’s growth and development.

RYA Director pays tribute

RYA Director of Sport Development Rob Clark paid tribute to the enormous impact that volunteers have in sailing and boating communities.

“It’s always so inspiring to hear of the amazing work that is happening every day, up and down the country, by volunteers right at the heart of our sport,” Rob explained.

“Whether it’s encouraging newcomers to give it a try, looking after facilities so people can get afloat safely, running weekend racing, or fundraising for equipment so more people can be introduced to the joys of being on the water – there really is a rewarding role for everyone in our communities, from teenager to octogenarian!”

Humbling achievements

“Our sport relies so much on the goodwill and skills of volunteers at every level, without whom the opportunities to get involved in boating would be greatly reduced,” said RYA CEO Sara Sutcliffe MBE.

“They are very often the first point of contact for new participants across the nations and regions, and can help to motivate a lifetime’s interest, or inspire others to train for fulfilling careers across the marine industry.

“It’s so humbling to hear of the many examples of selfless commitment our award recipients have shown – in many cases spanning decades – and they represent many thousands more who give their time to support boating in whatever way, great or small. Our grateful thanks go to them all.”

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Queen Mary Sailing Club

Find out more about Queen Mary Sailing Club, which has inspired and enabled the local community to try and enjoy sailing and windsurfing for 50 years.